June 23, 2014 11:52am PT by Michael O'Connell
World Cup Ratings: USA-Portugal Tie Is Most Watched Soccer Game in American History
A draw might be frustrating to fans, but Team USA's strong showing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup continues to be a cause for celebration at ESPN. The cable network hit another World Cup ratings high on Sunday thanks to coverage of America's 2-2 tie with Portugal.
After network-best overnight ratings, the network averaged 18.2 million viewers for the game. Not only is that a World Cup best, it's a soccer best. It marks the sport's most watched game in U.S. TV history, easily eclipsing any non-football telecast for ESPN.
It surpassed the previous record of 17.97 million viewers set in 1999 by ABC's coverage of the Women’s World Cup final between USA and China.
The Sunday evening game time proved especially advantageous for ESPN, with viewership maxing out at 22.96 million between 7:30 and 8 p.m. ET. It nearly doubled the first American outing at the 2014 World Cup, with their 2-1 victory over Ghana averaging 11.1 million viewers.
Univision, which has not been seeing its biggest ratings from the Team USA matches, was also at a high. Spanish-language coverage of the game brought a Team USA best of 6.5 million viewers.
Strong ratings will continue for both networks, as overall interest has seen viewership surge more than 50 percent during the first 32 matches. USA next faces Germany at noon ET on Thursday, June 26.